Interview: METEOROID

METEOROID crashed onto the scene with a bang in late 2012, but began their true trek as a band with their first one-man and release of their first single, "DIVER," back on February 11th of last year. Since that day, this five-man monster of a band has released three more singles and put on dozens of performances, including two sold-out one-man events. However, that's not all that's in METEOROID's future: Read more

Seeking New Staff!

As you may know, is always accepting staff applications, but recently we've had a few openings in different areas and we'd like to look to our readership for newcomers! If you've ever considered applying for the team before, you'll notice that our applications have undergone a few changes. We hope these are only positive changes and encourage anyone interested to apply! Technically, there's no time limit as the Read more

Vote for the Biggest, Weirdest, and Best of 2013

Hello my lovey readers! It's time to do some voting! For the past couple of weeks we've been taking nominations for who you deserves to win 2013 in a variety of categories. I want to give a big thank you to everyone for all the nominations! We have quite the list of nominees to vote on, so take a look through and choose who you think deserves to win. Please Read more

Contest Winners & Celebrations

This year December 6th marks six years of activities for! We held a special Dress Ernie Contest to celebrate, but before we get to the winners, there's a few words from the site's Ku and Adrienne. Message from Ku First, let me thank those of you who entered the contest. I know it can be intimidating to put your art out there for all to see, but our staff -- Read more

Interview: Sophia & Season of Ghosts

  Originally hailing as a music promoter from Thessaloniki, Greece, Sophia suddenly emerged from the business side of the visual scene and into the limelight after she was accepted as Blood Stain Child's new vocalist after the departure of Sadew in 2010. Shortly after, Sophia became one of the most recognized female vocalists within the industry, known not only for her work with Blood Stain Child but for her collaborations Read more

T.M. Revolution Reveals Past and Future at Otakon Press Conference

Article: jazz Coverage: jazz, Jess S. Photography: Adrienne Kubiak © 2013 ----- Refreshingly, T.M. Revolution is a big name absent a big ego. During a brief press conference in Baltimore on the evening of August 9th, he humbly invited members of the press to ask him about his recent activities, from his collaborations with Nana Mizuki to his role as cultural ambassador for his home prefecture to his career in musical theatre. Throughout Read more

T.M. Revolution Reveals Past and Future at Otakon Press Conference

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T.M. Revolution Reveals Past and Future at Otakon Press Conference

Image courtesy Adrienne Kubiak

Image courtesy Adrienne Kubiak

Article: jazz
Coverage: jazz, Jess S.
Photography: Adrienne Kubiak
© 2013


Refreshingly, T.M. Revolution is a big name absent a big ego. During a brief press conference in Baltimore on the evening of August 9th, he humbly invited members of the press to ask him about his recent activities, from his collaborations with Nana Mizuki to his role as cultural ambassador for his home prefecture to his career in musical theatre. Throughout this group interview, Mr. Revolution remained charming and cheerful, answering questions in full detail despite a clear time crunch.

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[Report] T.M. Revolution Fluently Fields Fan Questions at Otakon

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[Report] T.M. Revolution Fluently Fields Fan Questions at Otakon
Article: jazz
Coverage: jazz, Jess S.
Special thanks to Adrienne Kubiak
© 2013


When T.M. Revolution made his re-appearance at Otakon this year, fans didn’t waste a moment getting to Baltimore and swarming his events. So popular was the art-rock idol that his unpublicized autograph session had to be limited to only those people who claimed one of 100 highly coveted tickets – in person, at the beginning of the convention, no reservations, no ways around it. His limited-edition release, a compilation of 12 fan favorites titled Geisha Boy – Anime Song Experience, sold out all 500 copies within mere hours of the convention’s opening. (One staffer clued T.M. Revolution in on Twitter that the CD had sold out, to which the affable artist responded that he would get it up on iTunes for the fans who couldn’t catch it – a promise he dutifully kept).

So when, at the beginning of the fan Q&A, T.M. Revolution’s interpreter cheekily asked, “Are you ready to see T.M. Revolution in person?” and coaxed the overflowing audience into a chant of “T-M-R,” even the walls seemed to join in on the cheers. As the musical introduction welcomed T.M. Revolution to the stage, he beamed at the audience as he announced his gratitude to be at Otakon once again after a decade away.

The following is a transcript of the question and answer session.

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Live Report: Takanori’s Home Made Revolution in Baltimore

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Live Report: Takanori's Home Made Revolution in Baltimore

Image courtesy Adrienne Kubiak

Image courtesy Adrienne Kubiak

Article: jazz
Live coverage: jazz, Jess S.
Photography: Adrienne Kubiak for, David Weaver for Sony Music
© 2013


T.M. Revolution, the long-standing solo project of Takanori Nishikawa, made an official re-appearance at Otakon’s 20th Anniversary celebration back in August, and was there to document the highest highs!

When people hear T.M. Revolution, three things come to mind: longevity, versatility, and energy, and rightly so. In the 24th year of his career, T.M. Revolution hopped on a flight across the planet, taking a rare invitation to return to Otakon, the east coast’s largest anime and Japanese pop culture convention, for their 20th anniversary in Baltimore, MD. T.M. Revolution had previously performed at the 10th anniversary of the convention, back in 2003 when attendance was 17,000 – appropriately, half of the 34,000 of attendees seen in August of this year.

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Royz: Subaru & Kuina

Article: Ku
Photography: Evan Clark
Not for republication.

Every time Royz makes their way up to Aomori I’m impressed. I’m impressed by the ever-growing turnout, by the evolution of their sound with each new release, and of course by the boundless energy put to good use on stage. It wasn’t a hard decision to spend Halloween with the band at Quarter knowing that everyone would be in for a good time – and given the holiday, I could only speculate how the live might be different from their typical one-man show.

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Mix Speaker’s,Inc. at Anime USA 2012

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Mix Speaker's,Inc. at Anime USA 2012

For those who have never seen Mix Speaker’s,Inc. perform, it can be a very difficult image to paint, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a difficult world to craft. What makes Mix Speaker’s,Inc. unique, even among the countless visual kei bands who incorporate so many degrees of theatrics and themes into their image and music, is the degree to which their visuals and audibles meld to create a truly all-encompassing stage show that transports you to another dimension where you are watching a marvelous fairy tale unfold.

Each member of the band plays a certain archetypal role through many incarnations, like Cloud Atlas through the scope of VK. seek (ba) is always a monster, on this occasion a red tentacled octopus that could have come straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean; AYA (gu), despite boyish charm, tends to play the part of a princess; Keiji (gu), a warrior or soldier, this time with a seahorse theme; and S (dr) tends to be a wild card but with one thing in common: he is always something cute and often something squishy. The dueling vocalists, Yuki and Miki, tend to play complementary roles, with Miki the darker, “evil” twin and Yuki the innocent, angelic twin.

Despite opening to a modest crowd, all eagerly huddled around the stage — filling not even a quarter of the spacious Main Events room –, the band ascended the stage, all smiles, emitting a pure and sincere energy that captivated and mesmerized the audience, reaching beyond the room in such a way that, soon enough, that crowd of about a hundred doubled in size. Through the course of the evening, fans continued to dwindle in, drawn in by the energy and pure spectacle of a band that, appropriate for an anime convention, had some truly envious costumes and master role-playing skills.

Follow the jump for a detailed report and pictures!

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 4/4

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 4/4
Part 1Part 2Part 3

Today, we bring you the finale.

Act 6: kiss my way
(Vocals: Shiratori Yuuichi, Guitar: Ryouki, Guitar: bring me the Hayabusa, Bass: Yuu, Drums: Shimamura –Enter- Hikari)

Here’s a band you’ve never heard of with some of the most obscure member names you’ve probably ever heard. But kiss my way was merely a session band – and we say ‘merely’ in the lightest sense. You’re probably more familiar with them than you know. Primarily, considering the Chemical Pictures tie-ins sprinkled into the event, it should be no surprise that Shiratori Yuuichi, also known as Taira Kazuhiro, is also known as Tenten of Chemical Pictures fame. And, it was his birthday.

There was a bit of theatrics when the group took the stage. In coordinated suits, ties, and shutter shades, they entered marching in a row and put on a little show of robot-like choreography. It was short and sweet, though, so the band could launch into their first song.

The first two songs, covers of SiM and KuRt tracks, were expectedly heavy and fit in beautifully with the ongoing theme of loud, hard rock for the evening, with one difference: Yuuichi’s voice was phenomenal. He simply blew the other vocalists out of the water in terms of power and charisma. It was difficult to watch the other members on stage even though they were thrashing and bobbing right along with the music, too. Yuuichi just has too much power and command.

Absolutely reveling in his stage time, he threw a long MC into the middle of their set during which the audience sang happy birthday to him and the birthday-boy venue staff. He spat water at his band mates, danced around, and did nothing less than make a good time of it for everyone.

Largely uncommon for session bands, the next song, “Jisaboke”, had been written fresh just for this live. The song was starkly different from anything heard so far in the entire lineup as it was emotional but not a ballad; mellow but not slow. Simply put, it was shades tamer than the raucous tracks laid out the rest of the live.

It was the performance of “Doubutsu Party”, however, that made this night – and this session – one to remember. Yuuichi paused halfway through the song to separate the crowd right down the middle, half and half, facing each other with a considerable gap between sides. Anyone who has been to a metal show in the West might be familiar with this move, the “wall of death”.

But virtually a split second before the command to have the walls collide, the instrumentalists cut the music, and from the side of the stage a man dressed as the Grim Reaper brought Yuuichi a birthday cake. He was quick to smear it on his band mates’ faces before thanking everyone—and the song continued.

On cue, Yuuichi had the two sides of the crowd run at each other in something resembling a scene from Braveheart, slamming wall into wall. He did it again. And again. At times, he all but dragged in members from other bands had them stand in the center while the walls collided with and around them. After making the frenzied audience crash into one another several times, they concluded the song, and everyone was able to take a little time to breathe.

The encore calls began quickly, however, encouraged by the Grim Reaper as well, and it took very little time for kiss my way to return.

“Pretty Joke” was something to write home about, a number that began deceptively upbeat only to fly into loud, harsh, screaming insanity – with a pretty, melodic chorus. The crowd ate it up and even Death was grooving along at the side of the stage.

When it was all over, finally all over, the band aptly took their time clearing the stage, just as the fans took their time getting in their last-minute merchandise buys and clearing the venue.

Set list
1. キリングミー (Killing Me) / SiM
2. さらばバンビ (Saraba Bambi) / KuRt
3. 時差ボケ (Jisaboke)
4. どうぶつパーティー (Doubutsu Party)
En.1. プリティージョーク(Pretty Joke) / hone-kari

This has been your look into the world of visual kei event lives! As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to and a lot to learn. If you’re ever over in Japan with an evening to kill because none of your favorite bands happen to be playing, it’s worth the time and money to go scope out one of the many, many event lives that happen every night all over Tokyo – and other major cities. You never know what you’ll find.

Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 3/4

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 3/4
Before you read, check out Part 1 and Part 2!

(Vocals: Garo, Guitar: Meku, Bass: Toki, Drums: Nikky)

From the Hysteric Circus page: “We… formed and began activity in January 2012. We’re rapid-firing compositions with an exceptionally-aggressive band sound and catchy vocal melodies.” Though GALEYD hasn’t been around long itself, its members certainly have. Miku played as Schwarz in Chemical Pictures and aim, Toki and Nikky were also in aim as Sakura and Shota, respectively, and Garo was once JILL of Hi:BRiD fame.

The self-introduction of the band describes them to a T. Something peculiar happens at a live house when a band that’s as good as it claims to be prepares to take the stage, and it’s something we witnessed that night: the crowd thickened exponentially, and what was more interesting was that it thickened with male concert-goers. This is a rare phenomenon at your average event live, and it means something big is about to happen. GALEYD was precisely that big thing.

We were brought back to a more standard visual kei outfit style as the four-member unit took the stage to a Gregorian-esque SE, and a sense of tension hung in the air. Any sense of calm was shattered when their first speedy number, “Crimson Chain”, kicked off with rapid-fire drumming. By the time they finished the crowd was the epitome of excited and GALEYD didn’t fail to deliver in its solid and hard-hitting set. Meku was an absolute wonder, interacting with the crowd alongside Garo, but more importantly tearing up his guitar with blazing solos and galloping riffs.
Easily the favorite band thus so far and undeniably the most violent of the entire lineup, GALEYD is only 8 months into their career and has already rightfully gained a significant following. If you’re into wicked guitar and violent but melodious speed metal, they might be your next favorite, too.

Set list
1. Crimson Chain
2. Hysteric Liar
3. Shangrila
4. Replica
5. D.Z.I


(Vocals: Haru, Guitar: Sayura, Guitar: Katsuki, Bass: Layha, Drums: Tatsuki)

SCAPEGOAT’s Hysteric Circus self-introduction is a bit longer than the others: “Music that incorporates various styles like rock, loud [rock], screamo, pop, and digital, with a band sound that can’t be pigeonholed or easily categorized. Continuing a nonstop evolution, a soundscape painted by emotional ‘life’ and ‘death’ [themes]. From that world, performing more pronounced and incidentally harshly, transiently and melodiously, messages fired off by Haru, with an unparalleled unique voice. With five unique members which become one, lives are stimulating and impossible to predict… The full impact will shake and stir your emotions.”

With their launch in 2009, all five members traded in their old band name, Sister, and image to become SCAPEGOAT. Their introduction is a bit wordy, but do they fit the bill?

The band entered rapidly to danceable electronica, wearing sparkling blue costumes that made them stand out as the flashiest band of the evening, though this presentation might bring fans to deign them as the ‘most visual kei band’ there. In fact, their set fell into a similar generic standard of what modern visual kei is.

That’s not to say they weren’t good on stage. As described above, they certainly added some variety to the lineup of the evening, though it was clear that they selected heavier songs from their repertoire to compete with the other bands. And they were absolutely heavy. “108˚C-Gauge-” boasted brutal drums and bass that you could feel in your bones, and throughout the set the members’ performances were spot-on. Haru and Layha were particularly talented when it came to riling up the crowd, and smiles abounded for the whole energetic band. While visually they might have looked more timid with their shiny costumes and charming grins, they brought the heat necessary to mesh with the rest of the lineup.

During their brief MC, Haru congratulated a certain someone on his birthday, which will bring us to the final band of the show…

Set list
2. parasite glamor
3. 108˚C-Gauge-
4. deletion noise


The best is yet to come tomorrow, when we conclude this report with part 4!

Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 2/4

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 2/4
Did you read Part 1 yesterday?

Act 2: Rubik
(Vocals: Kei, Guitar: Shion, Guitar: Takebou, Bass: Kou, Drums: Yuri)

Rubik introduces itself with the idea “On a foundation of the sounds of heartrending melodies and rock, Rubik performs music to sell a sense of identity at lives” (from ViSULOG’s event page). Having begun activities in 2006 marked them as the oldest band at the event.

Entering to heavy-bass electronica, the second band up gave off a different aura than the first act in appearance alone; an undeniably harder image presented itself in the form of leather and studs. Shion seemed to garner just as much excitement from their fans as Kei upon entering, an unusual occurrence for most small bands. It was clear from the start, however, that even though Rubik is a bit of an underdog they have a solid following.

The four-song set began with two songs off of the band’s only two released singles, “under the mind” from “Red Impulse”, and “I think” from “Pulse of Black”. The former began with a killer drum line and came sprinkled with guttural supporting screams from Kou which might have even trumped Kei’s own, whereas the band got a bit heavier and more physically active on stage with “I think”.

Despite how much popularity seemed to all but radiate from Shion and Kei, from our humble perspective, Kou stole the show. He was active in interacting with fans, moved around the stage, screamed and head banged and generally rocked his way through the set list. Regardless, the band as a whole was a nice addition to the lineup of heavy acts, and there was much more to come.

Set list
1. I think
2. under the mind
3. Birthday
4. 喰ラエバ儚ク… (Kuraeba Hakanaku…)

Rubik OHP:

Act 3: DOPES.
(Vocals: Narumi, Guitar: Kai, Bass: Masato, Drums: Ryo)

From the Hysteric Circus page: “For those meeting us for the first time, it’s nice to meet you. And, for those who know us, please give us your best. We are DOPES., giving richness to life. From harsh songs to heartrending songs, we are an expansive band, so please come see us live!” DOPES. began in early 2011, and you may know Kai as an ex-member of LiZ.

The first of two four-person bands in the lineup, they brought something different to the stage in terms of looks that set them apart from any other band that evening: they were the least-visual band at the event. This certainly wasn’t a strike against them, as their casual black-and-white duds suited their equally casual performance style and was still more dressed-up than the jeans-and-t-shirt rock standard of the West.

Musically, they were fast-paced and chock full of backup vocals, which can be a refreshing change from bands which opt for backtracks instead of live backup. The set began with “NAKED”, the title track of their fourth single, and the set list was sprinkled with songs from different eras of their somewhat robust discography. Each song played had already been released aside from “EXPLOSION”, which only recently came out on the band’s first full album, “DOPE.-ism”, on August 1st. That said, the band seemed excited to play the song and even evoked a tame dog-pile in the front of the crowd.

It’s safe to say that by the time DOPES. played the precedent had been set for the style of music we would continue to witness at the show, and it would also be safe to say that the bands were only getting stronger as we moved through the lineup.

Set list


Part 3 will drop tomorrow with GALEYD and SCAPEGOAT!

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 1/4

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Live Report: HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume 1/4

Maybe you’ve heard of event lives. Maybe you’ve even been to one. Event lives, in Japan, are concert ‘events’ sponsored by a promoter, live house, or band, and typically have more bands playing than you can count on one hand. They are the starting point for bands too small for one mans, and the regular fare for bigger bands that only play occasional one mans. Saying that they are simply multi-band lives understates just what kind of strange beasts these shows are. They give us session bands, hours and hours of programming time, and an extraordinary amount of unwritten rules that seem pre-programmed into attendees.

They can be confusing or long and tiring, but there are some big pros to these shows. For less than the cost of a one man live ticket you can see all kinds of bands; there are event lives with several bands that have a similar sound, but there are also shows with a wide variety of visual artists. Because you don’t only get to hear a band’s music, but get to see their visuals, event lives could be the very best way to discover your next favorite visual kei band.

On July 20th, 2012, dared to venture out into the wilds of Tokyo in pursuit of an event live experience to share with our readers. Ikebukuro EDGE hosted our chosen live – ViSULOG’s “HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume”.

Let’s dive right in.

Act 1: 大日本黒鶏主義者連盟 (Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei)
(Vocals: Jojo, Guitar: Hikaru, Bass: Andy, Drums: Kaede, Support Guitar: Wajou)
Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei isn’t a regular band, but rather a unit of members of THE GALLO with a support guitarist to replace their recently-departed Lulu, playing under the guise of a session band. With no prior announcement about the support member or just why they chose to play under a pseudonym, there was no telling what to expect. Instead of their usual costumes, the band entered in the black suits which they typically wear for in-store events, and after the SE, began their first song immediately – 「黒鶏論-破壊編-」 (“Kokkeiron -hakaihen-”), the lead track off of their latest mini album.

Despite being the opening band, Dainihon brought the heat. Their heavy bass lines and skilled drumming stayed prevalent throughout the set, with the members giving their all and hardly looking like a session band. Jojo, with his crooked hold of the microphone, crooned and cried out his parts laced with his own utterly unique vibrato, while animated guitarist Hikaru made his usual wild faces at the crowd when he wasn’t head banging all over the stage.

The band brought a surprise in the middle of their set list with a cover of Chemical Pictures’s 「おぼれる魚」 (“Oboreru Sakana”) in tribute to the vocalist of the final band of the evening (more on that later).

With a set full of energy and band members clearly more than happy to be on stage for the first time in over a month, Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei set a good tone for the bands to come and did the first act’s job of getting the audience ready for more quite well.

Set list
1. 黒鶏論-破壊編- (Kokkeiron -hakaihen-)
2. 死神 (Shinigami)
3. おぼれる魚 (Oboreru Sakana) / Chemical Pictures
4. 曲芸師 (Kyokugeishi)
5. 大日本黒鶏主義者聯盟行進曲ホ短調 (Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei Koushinkyoku Ho Tanchou)


Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, featuring Rubik and DOPES.!

Live Report: The Space of ‘6’ HEAVENS

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Live Report: The Space of ‘6’ HEAVENS

Article: Ku
Photography: Ku, Chiva, & K
Not for republication.

Saturday, July 14, 2012 –

It’s been three months since we last visited Royz at Aomori Quarter. It’s been only three months, and the ever-active band is already back in action on a countrywide tour, “The Space of ‘6’ HEAVENS”, spurred by their latest single, “Starry HEAVEN” (6.27.2012).

Despite such a short absence from the northernmost prefecture on Honshū, the venue started rapidly filling when the doors opened at 5 p.m., and kept on going until the show would begin at 6 p.m. The atmosphere in the venue was nothing short of high-tension, evidenced by the way the crowd started paying attention and even giving a few cheers when just the slightest sounds of tuning instruments could be heard on the other side of the curtain. Attendance was high for a visual kei live, and was in fact surprisingly higher than their last performance in Aomori in April.

The reason might just be what we witnessed last time – a 2-hour live full of non-stop action and energy from a very flashy, catchy visual band. Read more


Royz @ Aomori QUARTER

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Royz @ Aomori QUARTER

Article: Ku
Photography: Ku & K
Not for republication.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 –

There aren’t many live houses in Aomori Prefecture that regularly bring in visual kei bands. The reason is simple: out in such a remote area of Japan, far from the packed live house crowds of Tokyo or Osaka, Aomori just doesn’t have as many fans of the niche genre. Quarter, however, probably sees the most traffic for touring visual kei acts in the prefecture. Though it rarely sells out attendance is never particularly low, and in a city which sees so few visual acts, the bands are always received with ample enthusiasm.

This was also the case for Royz, despite the live occurring on a Wednesday night. The moment doors opened to bring fans in from the cold, there was a rush to the barricade and excited chatter abound. Read more


Sakura-Con Live Report: Kanon Wakeshima

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Sakura-Con Live Report: Kanon Wakeshima

Article and photography by Juri
Concert Notations by Ku
Not for republication.

It was barely 6PM before fans and non-fans but curious attendees alike would begin to conglomerate into what would become a mega-sized line outside the main stage queue area. Yes, people were lining up to go line up! Tonight’s show had attracted many people from other cities, other states, other countries and even other continents.

Although lineups in the main stage queue area was not scheduled until 6:30PM, with the threat of a growing line that would obstruct traffic, people were let in early. Soon enough, the main stage queue area was flooded with fans of Kanon Wakeshima and Moi Dix Mois, and even Sakura-con attendees who weren’t fans but interested. As more people came in, the excitement built up. The tension and anticipation built up with every passing minute. The show was scheduled to be at 7PM, however, it started late at 7:45. Read more

Sakura-Con Live Report: Moi dix Mois

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Sakura-Con Live Report: Moi dix Mois

(C) Midi:Nette

Article by Ku.
Photography courtesy & copyright Midi:Nette.
Not for republication.

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 –

Kanon Wakeshima had just left the stage and cries for her encore began to taper off as it settled in that the next band was already preparing to take the stage. Sakura-Con’s most prominent visual kei guest so far came to perform this year; though it wouldn’t be Moi dix Mois’s first performance in the United States, it would still be something to write home about. Attendees could feel it. Despite the stage clearing of Kanon’s equipment, the crowd in the pit actually thickened in anticipation while ominous warnings of a strict no-photography policy echoed through the hall. This didn’t seem to deter anyone from crowding in to see the main event.

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L’Arc~en~Ciel @ Madison Square Garden (March 25, 2012)

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L'Arc~en~Ciel @ Madison Square Garden (March 25, 2012)

*This may seem late in coming, but while the information is no longer pertinent to the L’Arc~En~Ciel performance, it may help assuage fears or uncertainties in future situations, so I do implore everybody to read on!

As clandestine recordings of the Sunday night performance have flooded YouTube and reviews have been featured in major publications like the Village Voice and the New York Times, as well as Japanese pop culture-specific blogs like AnimeDiet, it is easy to forget that L’Arc~en~Ciel‘s only North American appearance during their entire 20th L’Anniversary World Tour, at the legendary Madison Square Garden, was rocked by a small scandal of sorts: a controversy surrounding seat-filling.

Casting notice for a "major Japanese band" performing at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, March 25.

The week leading up to the performance, as the date neared March 25th, a deliberately vague listing was posted by the casting agency Gotham Casting and uncovered by L’Arc~en~Ciel fans. The ad invited people, presumably the models and actors who would be familiar with such casting procedures, to submit their information to the agency in hopes of not only free entry into a concert by an unidentified “major Japanese band” at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 25th but also receiving compensation of $50 for their time and appearance in the audience. The ad made no claim as to who was performing, let alone who was responsible for the casting.

Once fans caught wind, many were understandably upset. Fans at the LiveJournal community, larcenciel, spoke of starting a Twitter campaign to voice their disapproval directly to the executives presumed to be responsible. Due to the promise of seats “in the front rows” from the advert, some worried that their own front-row tickets were in jeopardy, while others were convinced it was a scam. International fans did not understand the need for such measures when, for example, the Paris performance was both simulcast and recorded for DVD, and yet there were visible empty seats there.


Response on L'Arc~en~Ciel's Official Facebook page to alleviate fear and confusion regarding the casting.

Soon after, L’Arc~en~Ciel’s management responded to fan concerns and announced that they were not responsible for the casting and that fans needn’t worry about losing their front row seats to those hired to fill in seats. But questions remained: if neither L’Arc~en~Ciel nor their management, who was responsible? Why were they claiming they had front-row tickets to give away? Were seats blocked off specifically for this purpose?

My own tickets to L'Arc~en~Ciel, with the one I'd purchased in the back and the one received from the casting in the front. Note the "FC 0.00" on the ticket in front.

The short of it is as follows. The dominant rumor is that Madison Square Garden, themselves, footed the bill to fill the gaps at the concert. The tickets were not all front row tickets, nor were any of them specifically reserved for the purpose of filling with attractive faces, as some had speculated. But, indeed, there were many seats in the floor sections. This is because much if not all of Section B, at least, had been reserved for fan club members, but not all of these FC-designated seats had been sold.


For reasons as yet unclear, these tickets either had not been released for regular sale, or had not been released in a timely manner and thus remained unsold, and because they were in an obvious section – front and center – higher-ups reportedly unrelated to L’Arc~en~Ciel or their management wanted these seats filled for filming purposes. Bear in mind, there were also many seats in the first tiers, especially around the sections flanking the stage, that simply were never sold, perhaps due to Ticketmaster’s sorting algorithm, the clustering of fans into groups, or poor visibility in certain sections that lowered their desirability.


The long of it, including my own personal experience, a brief review, the set list, and a handful of pictures, is behind the cut! I encourage you all to share your own feelings and experiences – whether about the scandal or the show itself – in the comments!


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MoNoLith Presents MICHINOKU Autumn Tour 2011 “Touhoku Banzai!!!!!!!!!!!!” @ Aomori Quarter

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MoNoLith Presents MICHINOKU Autumn Tour 2011 “Touhoku Banzai!!!!!!!!!!!!” @ Aomori Quarter
This is a report I wrote a few months ago (as the date will tell), but was never published online. So, I’d like to share it with you, in hopes that you may learn about a new band or two!
(At the time of this report NEXX had not announced their dissolution.)
Heavy rain did nothing to deter a small crowd from forming outside of Quarter as early as an hour before doors opened on September 18, 2011, to one of the rare few visual kei live tours to come up to the area. Tohoku, the north-eastern part of Japan which includes Aomori, is so far out of the way for most musicians that it frequently gets missed on tours. It goes without saying that local visual fans were eager for the opportunity to attend a live close to home.
The first band to take the stage was global ray, a local group from Aomori reminiscent of the “Soft V” genre in looks with a pop-rock sound. Though the locals call them “osare”, they came across a little too dark (and almost menacing!) in presence to fit the title. Their five-song set included “Kusatta Umi to Akai Sora”, an attention-getter with melodic guitar sections and smooth solos. “Byakuya”, their final, made their overall sound a little heavier with the use of an impressive grinding guitar and bass section. The band members tended to keep to their own parts of the stage and only seemed to get more comfortable with showmanship at the end of their set. They have potential, without a doubt.
Note came on next, opening with a considerably long instrumental track before any members set foot on stage. As the music played on, the tension in the room rose and finally we had our second act. Hailing from Morioka, Note’s members wore all black and had an eerier look than the first act. Their sound was easily heavier, incorporating guttural screams, low guitar riffs, and pounding bass lines that could shake you to the bone. After four songs their set was over, but not before warming the audience up for the next band.

NEXX was a stark contrast to the darker-looking bands before them; they entered in sparkly sequined outfits, boasted brightened dyed hair, and carried with them an undeniable upbeat energy that hadn’t before been present on stage. Though their looks were osare without a doubt, their sound was not what might have been expected. CHISA’s melodic vocals atop heavy backing music frequently shifted to growls that suited the band’s brilliant energy surprisingly well. Throughout their four-song set, NEXX boasted harmonic guitar sections that showed off how well-matched the newest guitarist, hayato, was to hide (guitar), despite playing together for less than a year. They stood out from the bands before them and the bands that were to come and definitely put on a memorable act.

Fourth in the lineup came resilience in the form of a five-man band down to four members with their vocalist out ill. Many fans were unsure of just how dolore would perform without ZERO, their front man. Guitarist TOWMA took center-stage but without disturbing the front-and-center spot where their vocalist would normally stand. He used the microphone that stood there quite a bit for MCs until the last song, when he asked the audience for permission to sing for ZERO. The previous three songs had included a vocal track in the background while the band played with seemingly no hesitation about the fact that they were missing a member.

Osaka-based Royz was welcomed to the stage fifth by the most enthusiastic fans yet. Similar to NEXX, they also donned shiny costumes, a rainbow of dyed hair between the members, and somehow even more energy which was put into every minute they performed. “JOKER” opened the set with some complicated furi that the audience seemed to have no problem jumping right into. Upbeat and enjoyable throughout, their bright music, sprinkled with heavy riffs and occasional growling from Subaru (vocals), challenged everyone to follow the beat with some of the most complex furi the night had to offer. Royz closed their set with “still”, a soft song which incorporated the use of band-brand light sticks. Before they turned the stage over to the sixth act, several members leaned into the crowd to touch and shake hands.

Another sparkling band entered. SCAPEGOAT was up to rock the live house with a stunning five song set. Yet another band with boundless energy, they saw more audience participation than any act so far, with even the very back row swinging their arms and head banging accordingly. Haru’s melodic voice carried over the sea of furi and dropped onto the crowd in contrasting growls that suited their music well.

It’s hard to overstate how intense and emotive the final band was, and even harder to try and describe their music. Originally from Sendai, MoNoLith brings something unusual to the visual kei scene. The band is a five-piece unit. They only have one guitarist, but two vocalists, which made for beautiful and riveting harmonies throughout their set. The venue was practically thrumming with energy as they performed, while even the fans in the back of the live house participated in the furi. Their fourth song, a new tune called “dizzy★monster”, required some demonstration for the hand movements but everyone cooperated and it was all great fun.
In the band, Ryu’s voice is sweet and pretty, while Keita’s screams are expert. The real hook about this duo, however, is the fact that they are multi-faceted; Keita’s singing voice was also beautiful, and Ryu could handle his growling. With these two leading the band, MoNoLith had the entire venue moving until the end. The conclusion was “Gobura”, a song that was particularly striking in the fact that its furi included kneeling not once but twice – and everyone in the hall complied.
There couldn’t have been a much stronger ending for a rare night of visual kei in Aomori. The combination of different sounds from these different bands all but guaranteed there was something for every visual rock fan to enjoy. If you ever have a chance to get out and see some Tohoku visual kei you’ll surely find something you like, too!

Set Lists
global ray.
1. Ruri (tentative title)
2. Wake up
3. Piasu
4. Kusatta Umi to Akai Sora
5. Byakuya
2. eve:r
3. α
4. still
1. Gravy Sauce
2. Mirai Torippa
4. dizzy★monster
6. the Worst-Seller NoveL [ist]
Encore 1. Tenohira
Encore 2. Gobura

Royz OHP:
MoNoLith OHP:

Ensoku Christmas 2011 at EXPLOSION

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Ensoku Christmas 2011 at EXPLOSION

["Enji no Kurisumasu Kaiteki Tandoku Kouen
Kamisama Nante Mou Shiranai"]

EXPLOSION is a small venue located in a small shop-cluttered neighborhood of Tokyo. It was windy and cloudy when my friends and I arrived after grabbing some hot drinks and santa hats to sport for the show.

Right on time the doors opened and staff was quick to organize, bringing in the first 20 or so S (special) ticket holders before relocating the rest of the mob to a nearby park to get us into numerical order. We were at the front of the A ticket line and ended up about halfway between the stage and the back of the venue upon entry. Considering how small the live house is, any spot in the venue was a good one.

The hall was decorated with all kinds of random items that were probably picked up from a local Daiso — inflatable swords, plastic dolphins, silk leaves, Elmo, and even a… frying pan.

Ensoku appeared in their new and bizarre Micky Mouse-esque getups and put on an unforgettable show.

An energetic performance of「イガトラ」 ["Igatora"] kicked the live off. We were treated to a new rendition of 「ししゃもLOVER」 ["Shishamo Lover"]. The more serious-feeling 「ココアシガレット」 ["Cocoa Cigarette"], thrown into the middle of a mix of bizarre hilarity, was a good change of pace.

With incredible energy, Buu (vocals) screamed half of his MCs. The band incorporated story lines to link their songs together, including a bit with Yusuke (guitar) playing as a shirtless “Shishamo Santa”. 「大銀河戦艦ナガト」 ["Daiginga Senkan Nagato"] and 「少女怪獣バンギャルラ」 ["Shojo Kaijuu Bangarura"], with their arguably epic sounds and story lines, were spiced up with passionate acting and props.

The band had the audience hopping all over the live house and participating in some silly, unique, and all-around plain fun furi.

The show ended on my personal favorite song, 「愛の流星」 ["Ai no Ryuusei"], another song with a more serious theme which Buu has mentioned that they play live very rarely. It was a treat to see.

Ensoku is a band I recommend for anyone, visual kei fan or not. They’re quirky enough to be fun for just about anybody. If you ever have the chance to see them live, take it. Without a doubt, you’ll come out of it with smiles and great memories.

Top photo credit: Ku


MIYAVI [WHAT'S MY NAME? WORLD TOUR 2011] @ Irving Plaza, NYC [2011.10.31]

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MIYAVI [WHAT'S MY NAME? WORLD TOUR 2011] @ Irving Plaza, NYC [2011.10.31]


As somebody who has been fortunate enough to see MIYAVI perform a handful of times, always in different contexts, I can say every tour, maybe even every show, is a wildly different experience.

Halloween’s iteration of MIYAVI’s WHAT’S MY NAME? WORLD TOUR 2011 -NORTH & SOUTH AMERICA CIRCUIT- was no exception.

Halloween fell on a Monday this year, and perhaps from competition of the downtown Halloween Parade or the mere fact that it was a workday, Irving Plaza wasn’t quite as full as one would’ve hoped or expected, certainly not considering his stellar performance there in June of 2010. Regardless, both MIYAVI and the fans gave it their all to make the atmosphere one of positive energy.

MIYAVI, as much known for his eccentric style as his shredding skills, initially emerged on stage wearing a (lightly adorned) white t-shirt and black blazer, his hair mostly undone and thick-rimmed glasses hanging on his nose. It was a remarkably subdued look for the effervescent singer and strummer, though, appropriately enough, he looked as if he could’ve hopped on the L out of Williamsburg to get to the venue that night. I can’t say it wasn’t refreshing – I think there’s a part in all of us that wants to see Lady Gaga in jeans, after all, but on Halloween, of all days, could this have possibly been an ironic non-costume costume?


His toned-down image by no means signaled a toned-down performance, however.

As soon as he climbed on stage, MIYAVI tore into his act. Not a moment’s hesitation, no opening band, a nearly non-stop set peppered with brief (but well articulated) MCs, mostly in English, showcasing the star’s fairly newly acquired linguistic skills. (For somebody who, by his own estimate, has only been learning English for 5 years, he speaks quite naturally. Either he’s more studious than he lets on, or he’s got a real gift. Maybe a little of both.) He playfully mocked his drummer, BOBO, whose English ability supposedly extends as far as, “What the fuck?!” but memories of the terrible disaster that struck Tohoku this spring put even a joker like MIYAVI in a sober mood as he promoted a message of peace, positivity, and cooperation.

The set-list was sprinkled with old and new songs alike, from the powerful SHELTER, to concert standbys ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?, BOOM HAH BOOM HAH HAH, and the tour’s eponymous WHAT’S MY NAME?, to a reworking of his classic anthem of individuality, 自分革命 (Jibun Kakumei). Here and there he showcased his picking and plucking skills with appropriately placed guitar solos, some seemingly spontaneous and others, extensions of songs.


Possibly the highlight of the night was when he popped out for the encore, clad in a dandy costume that he announced he’d picked up at Ricky’s (a New York-based costume and cosmetic shop), and went into a (suddenly) eagerly anticipated rendition of Señor, Señora, Señorita that caused the crowd to surge and frenzy like they hadn’t before. During the next song, he proceeded to climb a platform to the right of the stage, causing the fans on the balcony to lean precariously over the barrier trying to reach him.

Near the end of the masked MIYAVI’s encore, the musician whipped out his own camera to take shots of the crowd, proving once again that he is his fans’ biggest fan. Ever the gracious performer, MIYAVI stuck around after the show to sign autographs for fans who purchased VIP tickets before packing up and heading to the next date on his tour.

MIYAVI fans the world over! Did you see MIYAVI in New York? San Francisco? Lima? Buenos Aires? Leave your impressions of the tour in a comment!